Sustainable Ag class field trip to Santa Cruz and Pescadero

One of the best things about going to business school at Stanford is the ability to take classes “across the street,” i.e., classes in any other department at Stanford. The Earth Sciences program is outstanding and I’ve been looking forward to taking ES 180B: “The Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture” since I first thought about applying to the GSB. The class is as great as I anticipated. By the end of the quarter I think I’ll have a better understanding of a bunch of farm-related topics ranging from soil science to chicken-rearing. Half our classes are in the classroom and the other half are on the Stanford Farm. It’s great to learn in a hands-on setting and our Farm Educator, Patrick Archie, is a rockstar.

Christof talks to us about cauliflower

This Saturday our class took a field trip to Santa Cruz and Pescadero. We spent a few hours at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) grounds with Christof Bernau, the Garden Manager. Christof led us on a tour of the farm and talked about the practices they use to run the farm sustainably. The coolest thing I learned about CASFS is that they run a six month apprenticeship program (Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture) for ~35-40 apprentices per year. The program provides a ton of experience and knowledge on everything you need to know to run an organic sustainable farm. Very tempting. After our tour we had lunch with a group of newly-graduated apprentices (the program runs April-October) and they had great things to say about the program.

Austin shows off his newfound chicken-handling skills

After lunch we headed up the coast to Pie Ranch in Pescadero to volunteer and take another tour. We picked raspberries, harvested pumpkins, and collected eggs. Pie Ranch founders, Nancy and Jered, have developed a substantial youth education program which enables them to partner with Bay Area youth around food and farming. School and extracurricular groups come to Pie Ranch, volunteer around the farm, and learn to make the farm’s namesake product: pies of all kinds. We got to sample a Pear Ginger pie at the end of our visit-delish. You can buy their pies at their farmstand (Sat and Sun 12-6pm) or at Mission Pie in San Francisco. If you do plan to visit the farm, aim for the third Saturday of the month when the ranch hosts community work days at 2pm, potlucks at 6pm, and barn dances at 7pm.

About Michelle Paratore

Management consultant obsessed with food justice, food politics, food start-ups, food sustainability, and eating food too...
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